Arboretum News

Kids Activity: Spring Sensory Hunt

Explore outdoors using sight, sound, touch and scent.

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By Reba Luiken, Arboretum coordinator of informal interpretation

Eyes and ears and mouth and nose… How many senses can you use to explore nature? Sometimes we get all wrapped up in what we can see with our eyes, but as a dog can show you, noses can be even more powerful partners when it comes to exploring the natural world. It turns out, young children can also be expert explorers with all of their senses if we give them time to explore. 

Challenge yourself to take on your child’s perspective as you work through this sensory scavenger hunt.  It might even take you many days to complete the list. Go with the flow and embrace wonder about the natural world. 

– Sensory Scavenger Hunt Sheet 
– Pen, pencil or crayon if you want to check off items as you find them


1. Print out the scavenger hunt sheet or pull it up on a smartphone.

2. Head outside with ears and eyes open together to hunt for items on the list.

3. For younger children, offer two or three items to hunt for at first and add more as you find the first ones. Older children that can read will be able to be more independent as they hunt. 


– The scavenger hunt sheet does not include items for tasting, but as our youngest learners know best, the mouth can be an essential tool for exploring the world around us. If you are comfortable identifying edible plants and in a place where you know chemicals are limited (like your own yard), you could add in another list to engage this fifth sense. Explore Minnesota offers some suggestions about where to learn more about edible plants.

– Did you hear a bird or a frog? See if you can identify it by sound. The Merlin App is a great resource for bird calls, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a list of frog calls of species you might hear in Minnesota here.

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